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Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed: Lords of the Rings

What exactly can Kendrick Perkins' and Nazr Mohammed's playoff experience give the Thunder this postseason?
by Berry Tramel Published: April 15, 2011

Kendrick Perkins has played 68 NBA playoff games.

Thirteen against Dwight Howard and the Magic. Thirteen against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Eleven against Pau Gasol and the Lakers. Seven in that epic 2009 series against Chicago that included four overtime games and seven overtime periods.

Sixty-eight playoff games are more than Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Eric Maynor and Nick Collison combined.

On the same February day Perkins became a Boomer, so did Nazr Mohammed, who arrived from Charlotte with 44 playoff games.

Perkins and Mohammed brought something else. NBA championship rings.

The NBA playoffs are a dues-paying enterprise. Extensive experience required for success.

But did the Thunder cut in line with the mid-season trades that brought these lords of the rings? Did the Thunder land on space 28 in Chutes & Ladders and jump all the way to 84?

Did the blue-collar, hard-hatted Perkins bring more than a scowl that would scare a werewolf and defense that protects the basket the way the Secret Service protects the president?

Did the Thunder trade for sweat equity? Is the Thunder now fully vested in the hunt for the O'Brien Trophy?

The Thunder begins its 2011 playoff odyssey Sunday night against the Nuggets. Many are picking Oklahoma City to contend in the Western Conference, even though the Baby Boomers are playoff novices.

Can the playoff experience of Perkins, a starting center for the 2008 champion Celtics, and Mohammed, starting center for the 2005 champion Spurs, rub off on their new teammates?

“It can help the whole team,” said Mohammed. “We can share our experiences.”

No NBA champion since the '77 TrailBlazers has won with little previous playoff experience.

But why? We all can agree that playoff experience matters. But what exactly is it? What does experience provide? How can we see it manifested?

“It's paying close attention to little detail things,” Perkins said. “Not taking possessions off.

“Having playoff experience, you've been in every situation they can throw at you.

“Get in the playoffs, every possession counts.”

Playoff games are different. They're nothing like a December game in Toronto or a January game against the Timberwolves.

“The whole (playoff) game is like the last two minutes of a regular-season game,” Mohammed said.

Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles agreed.

“It's a different level,” Skiles said. “There's more intensity, more focus on every possession. When there's 82 games, even with a winning team, you have a stretch on a Thursday night where you're sloppy, you can address it, correct it.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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